Essays From The Master

Archive for July, 2006

The Myth of civilization

The Myth of civilization

It is written in one of the scrolls of the Komuso Ryu that civilization does not actually exist. Human beings confuse culture with civilization. If any culture was civil there would be no need for laws or courts or any of the constraints that humans make so plain that they require in order to function. In a civil culture no war would exist and each would have enough to be sufficient without any trace of greed or reliance on others. As with most concepts that so many see as ideal that of civilization can only work in the realm of the theoretical, the mythic, an ideal to be sought and experienced only in moments at a time. If any society did reach this supposed ideal said society would be at the mercy of those other societies which were less evolved. This would require the “civilization” to defend its self and thus in defending its self participate in those things which are contrary to civilization.


The confusion of culture and civilization is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. Every group has a need to feel that they have the truth and that they do have for those in said group. The fact that other groups and therefore other truths exist threatens many groups, be they nations, religions or by whatever means humans group themselves. This perceived threat, based on the fear of being wrong and the need to remove the threat, is the cause of war and so many other forms of combative behavior. The essential truth is that humans are pack animals striving for territory and a sense of security as the means of survival. People may gloss this in any way they choose but the essential fact remains how ever humans may attempt to frame it.


What is the answer? The current one is two fold, attempt to be cosmopolitan and allow the other groups to exist while silently (or not so silently) believing your truth to be the end all and be all, while defending your self from those less “enlightened” than you. The second option is to attack the other groups to get them to submit or to eliminate the competing group and its truth. These are the answers the princes offer and make use of to control the masses. In the view of the author it seems that if each individual simply adhered to there own standards and pursued the ideals of there perspective paradigms the fruit of each path would be obvious and so would each path’s virtues all the while empowering others and taking nothing from any one else’s path. Of course there will be those who disagree but my paradigm is not predicated on the acceptance of others. The need to be right, which is to say be agreed with, is actually the drive to feel secure through being in control. Control of others makes one a slave to those who submit. Better to control one ’s self and be able to respond to what comes. Self control is in its way the only real power because it is the only “power” that takes into account the fact that to agree or submit to another is an act of will and lasts only as long as the will’s of those involved all agree as to what the terms of the agreement are.


In the end we only have ourselves and those whom we chose who also choose us. Civilization is a great ideal like equality but like equality always falls short because of how the concept is executed and the constantly changing nature of the elements involved. Ideals are like art they require a static state in which to exist. We live in a fluid existence and so utopia in whatever manner one defines it is only accessible as a dream or a concept. Rather than attempting to see one’s ideal manifest for all those with an ideal would be better served in embodying said ideal themselves. Don’t dream it be it as the old song says. Leave the myth of civilization and all of its pitfalls behind and strive to be true to those absolutes that are personal. In doing so each individual is as civilized as they are as capable of being.


There are many creeds I do not agree with but simply because I disagree does not mean that I have to convert them to my way or that they must likewise convert me. I am many things and I remain what I am even as society changes and mores shift. The truth can not be changed or denied it simply is, as it is for everyone else.